Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Lent: Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 25:8-17

God tells them that punishment is coming, but it will not last forever. Even when God punishes His people, He will not give up on them. He is doing it to bring them home. God's desire is for us to be in right relationship with Him. God simply wants us to know Him and to love Him. He so desperately wants to know us, to save us, to forgive us. He will do whatever He has to do to make that possible.

We just have to turn back to Him. And He will meet us there.

New Testament Lesson

Romans 10:1-13

This passage has to me one of the, if not the, most important passage in all of scripture. I share this passage with the people that I teach in confirmation. John Wesley said that everything needful for salvation is made clear in scripture. I think this passage makes it abundantly clear what one must do to be saved.

If you believe with your heart and confess with your mouth, you shall be saved.

That's it, that's the list. It's not about baptism, doctrine, church, communion, anything. Belief, confession = salvation. That's it.

God wants us to come home. God wants us to know Him. God wants us to be right. If we believe, and confess, we will be.

Gospel Lesson

John 9:18-41

Jesus found the man born blind after He had been cast out and revealed who He was. He told Him that He is the One. And the man worshiped. Even after all He been through that day, even after being kicked out, he worshiped. For, he had Jesus. And, in having Jesus, he had all he needed. Today, in spite of everything in life, all the concerns, needs, and fears, if we have Jesus, we have all we need.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Lent: Monday, March 30, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 24:1-10

The Lord says that He will save His people. Those that are faithful, those that turn to Him, those that are His, He will save. When we turn to Him, we find His grace, we find His salvation, we find His grace.

God will not leave His people. Even when things look bad and hopeless. He is there. When we look with the eyes of faith, we find Him. Today, look with those eyes.

New Testament Lesson

Romans 9:19-33

We see that righteousness comes not from our own works, but from faith. We can't earn God's love. We can't make God love us. We can't earn being a child of God.

We don't have to. It's freely given by faith. By trusting in Him and His grace, we are made faithful. We are made righteous. We are made sons and daughters of God. But faith. By trust. By belief. Today, and each day, trust in Him.

Gospel Lesson

John 9:1-17

The blind man said about all the questions, I don't know. I simply know I was born blind and now I see. Because of Jesus. I don't know all the answers. I don't understand everything. I can't explain every ministry. I just know I used to be blind and now I see. I used to be dead and I now I live. I used to be hopeless and now I have hope.

Because of Jesus.

Today, may we each have that sight, life, and hope. Because of Jesus

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lent: Thursday, March 26, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 22:13-23

The Lord warns the king - you have not done right. You have not judged correctly. You have taken advantage of others. You have done evil. And because you are the king, the leader, the one, and you have not done right; judgement is coming.

We see in this what makes the Lord the most angry is how he was oppressive the poor and needy. He did not take care of them; in fact he used them for his own gain. No where in this condemnation was he condemned for idolatry, even though he did it. His idolatry was see in how he treated others.

Our love for God, our worship of God; it is really seen in how we treat one another. How can we say we love God and not love one another? How can we say we worship God and mistreat one another? Our love for God is seen greatest and most vividly in our love for our neighbor.

New Testament Lesson

Romans 8:12-27

Paul says if we live by the spirit, we will do these things. We will put to death the old ways. We will live in new life. Not if we live by our own strength or our own might. But, by the spirit. By God's spirit. If we follow Him, if we allow the spirit to guide us, convict us, call us, transform us, change us, then we will know life.

If we think we are strong enough to do it on our own, we are wrong. But, through God's Holy Spirit, there is nothing - nothing, we cannot do!

Gospel Lesson

John 6:41-51

Jesus is the bread of life. He is the source of life. He is the way of life. He is life. We find life by turning to Him, each day. By resting in Him, trusting in Him, loving Him.

He is life. Today may we know that life that come only through Jesus.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Lent: Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 18:1-11

This is the famous passage of the potter and the clay. The potter shapes the clay into the vessel that he needs it to be. The clay does not exist for it's own glory, but for the glory of the potter. He shapes and molds, he builds and tears down. He softens. He works. He is patient in making the clay into just what he wants it to be.

So is God with us. He is the potter and we are the clay. He works on us. He shapes us. He molds us. He is making us into something to glorify Him. Something to be useful to Him.

Today, He is at work on you. Let Him work. Let Him mold. Let Him fix. Let Him shape. It is for your good and His glory. The potter is working us today, to make us what He wants us to be.

New Testament Lesson

Romans 8:1-11

There is no condemnation for those in Christ Jesus. Today, in Christ, you are forgiven. Whatever it is, whatever you have done, no matter how bad it might be, through Christ, you are forgiven. Though Christ you can know life and peace and joy and forgiveness. Through the world, through yourself, through the things not of God, we will never know these things. But, through Christ, through the Spirit, we can know life! We can know forgiveness.

Today, through Christ, you can be forgiven!

Gospel Lesson

John 6:27-40

Through Jesus we will never hunger again. We will never thirst again. We will find life. Think about that. Where all do we chase life? In work, in service, in our hobbies, in our families, in our goals, in all these things. Yet, each of these, even the greatness of family, leave us lacking. We know there must be more.

We are hungry for more. We are thirsty for more. We are craving more. We find what seek in one place. Jesus.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Dry Spells and Voices

I've been going through a dry spell recently. Been really busy. I was a play a month or so ago, and that took a lot time. Of course church always keeps you pretty busy. And responsibilities within our Annual Conference. Family. Etc, etc, etc.

We've all been there, haven't we? We've all had those moments in life where our souls just feel dry. Those times where we just don't hear. Don't see. Feel alone. I just have felt like my soul has been a little dry these past few weeks.

I've been watching the kids tonight. Holly is working late and I've just been hanging out with them. It's been fun. We've been to McDonald's and eaten more McNuggets than really anyone should eat. In a life time.

We've played. We've had fun.

As I watched the kids play in our small sandbox, I just started praying. God, I need to hear you now. I just need to hear your voice. I know you're there. I believe. I have faith. But, I need to hear. I need a drink of water. My soul dry.

And then I look at my kids. And I realized how lucky I am. How all I've been through in life, all the ways God has literally spared my life, all the ways He has given SO much more grace than I deserve, even at my best moment. And my life, like every one's is not a collection of my best moments. I guess that's why it's grace. We could never deserve it.

And it just hit me. God has shown His love to me every moment of life. Every instant I've been alive, God has poured out grace upon grace. And the reason my soul has been so dry is because I haven't taken time to water it.

Dr. Frank Pollard, former pastor of First Baptist Church, Jackson, MS may have been the greatest preacher I've ever heard. He used to say that prayer is the oxygen that feeds our souls. There is abundant oxygen for our souls. There is abundant water for our drought. There is amazing grace for this time.

We just have to allow God open our hearts. We have to allow Him to calm us, slow us, speak to us, and breathe in us. And fill us.

Today, the water is ready. The drought is over. Drink in. Nourish your soul. Life awaits.

Lent: Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

God tells the people, if you listen to me, you will find life. You forefathers did not listen, and they did not find the life they were chasing. If you listen, you will find it. If you listen.

If you harden your hearts and do not listen you will not find life. Why? Why is that?

I think that the thing that hardened heart does that is the worst is that it keeps us from being able to hear God. When our heart is heart, our heart is not sensitive to God, and we can't hear or see His presence all around.

When we do not listen, when we do not open our hearts to God, we playing with fire. We do no want hardened heart. God can still soften them, but the harder they are, the harder to hear God.

New Testament Lesson

Augustine once wrote that original sin is the only provable doctrine. We all know how to do wrong. We've got that part down. We have to learn how to do right. Our natural, gut reaction is to hit others back, return a curse with a curse, not forgive. What did Jesus say about those things?

No. Turn the other cheek. Give blessings for curses. Love. Forgive. But, as Paul says, that's hard. We know we ought to, but we don't. And then we find ourselves doing the very things we shouldn't do.

Thanks be to God that our salvation comes not through our works, but by His grace.

Gospel Lesson

One of the universal messages Jesus taught was this. Do not fear. Do not be afraid. Trust. He is there. Today, in whatever storm you're in, don't fear. Don't be afraid. Trust. Have faith. He is there. Even in the storm.

Monday, March 23, 2009


One of the things that I'm going to do @ my new blog address is do more personal thoughts and reflections.

Tonight, I've been thinking about leadership, particularly within the church. I just heard the story of preacher somewhere within the state of Mississippi that did something so incredibly stupid that it made my head hurt.

This action made me mad for a a couple of reasons. But, the main was because this person had been given a group of souls by the church, but more importantly, by God, that he was supposed to take care of. And for some reason that I don't understand, he didn't.

Why? Why do people do dumb things? Why do people not see the results of their actions? I don't know.

But, in truth we all do that. We all do dumb things. We all do not think through our actions. But, for most of us we have more common sense than the person I'm thinking about.

What does this have to do with leadership?At the core, I think leadership is about one thing. Trust. To lead Ripely FUMC, above all, my people have to trust me. They have to trust that God is leading me and that I'm listening to Him. They have to trust that I'm listening to them as well. That I value them. That I know God doesn't just speak to me, but to all of us.

And sometimes, in fact most of the time, it's not about what I teach others. It's about what they can teach me.

And maybe that's why this person did something terribly dumb. He thought He was the only source of wisdom. It was just him and God. And if the people didn't listen to him, then they weren't listening to God. He didn't trust them. And, because of that, they didn't trust him, and it all blew up.

Trust. It's hard to earn. It's easily lost. And without it, ministry, or any type of leadership is impossible. If we are going to lead, in whatever setting we are in, we have to earn the trust of others.

How? By valuing them. Loving them. Respecting them. Listening to them. Serving them. Know that we as the leader are not the only source of wisdom. Remembering that all wisdom come from God. And in that, they will trust. And we can lead.


This is my new blogging spot. I hope you'll find the same great service here you did at 'Mid Toil!

Thanks for coming by!

Lent: Monday, March 23, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

The problems that Israel faces goes back to the fact the main thing God told them to do was worship Him. Place Him first. Have no other idols. But, they worshiped idols, they turned away. It all started with that.

When God is not first, our entire being is thrown off. We were created to have God first in our lives and when He is not, we are living at our fullest, we will not experience the peace, joy, and love we were created to know. When He is first, we know the fullness of life. When He is not, we are not fully alive.

New Testament Lesson

We are not saved by keeping the Law or the Commandments. We are saved by faith in Christ. Faith is the key to that life. But, that doesn't mean we should disregard the Law either. We are not saved by it, but we need to live moral and good lives. The law shows us how. The commandments show us how. Life comes through Christ. May we remember that He is our life.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus fed the people. He met their needs. He gave them what they needed for life; they found it in Him.

Let Him feed you today. Let Him feed your souls and meet your needs. He will fill your soul and give you life!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Lent: Thursday, March 19, 2009

Today, just a quick thought and say a prayer for Bill Kuykendall this morning as he recovers from a heart attack and faces a heart cath today.

I think that if God forgives us we must forgive ourselves. Otherwise it is almost like setting up ourselves as a higher tribunal than Him.

CS Lewis

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Lent: Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Today, just a quick thought

Attitude is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than what people do or say. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. The remarkable thing is, we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We can not change the fact that people act in a certain way. We can not change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude.

Charles Swindoll

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Lent: Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

A powerful verse today. God told the people to look forward, not backwards. Look at what He has called you to be, not who you used to be. Look at the new life ahead, not the old life behind. Look at the grace in new day, not the sin was behind. Look forward to what is to come, not what lay behind.

For God is ahead. New life is ahead. Forgiveness is ahead. Don't focus on what you used to be. Focus on who God is calling you to be. Look forward, not backwards.

New Testament Lesson

One of the reasons reasons why Abraham is our great example of faith was that he kept hoping and having faith, even when things didn't look good. He left behind what was known, to go to what was unknown. Because God had called him. And he had faith in God. He had faith, even when his eyes could not see. For, above all, he trusted God. May we have the same type of faith.

Gospel Lesson

Jesus tells everyone that is thirsty, come and drink. If you are thirsty today, if you are lacking today, if you are needful today, if you have that whole in your heart day; come drink. Come drink the life-giving water of Jesus. Drink in life. Drink in rest. Drink in new life.

May all who are needful find what they need in Jesus.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Lent: Monday, March 16, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 7:1-15

We see the Lord tell the people, if you will return to me, I will be there. If you return to me, you will find mercy and grace. You will find life. What does it look like to return? Returning to God involves how we treat those in need. How we care for those in our midst that need our help and God's help. The prophet says :

For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.
If we love God, we love neighbor. That's how God wants it to go. Our love for Him is seen in how we treat one another. Today, may we love Him by loving each other.

New Testament Lesson

Romans 4:1-12

We see that Abraham's faith was reckoned to him as righteousness. It wasn't his actions, it was his faith. His faith produced action. But, the faith was the start. The faith was the heart. The faith was where it all starts. Today, and each day, may the faith we have change all our lives.

Gospel Lesson

John 7:14-36

Jesus reminds us that He received His teaching from God. So, when we see Jesus, we see God. When we see the teaching and love of Jesus, we see the heart and compassion of God. When we see the mercy of Jesus, we see the mercy of God. When we see who Jesus is, we see who God is.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Lent: Thursday, March 12, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 4:9-10, 19-28

We see the Lord say, my people, even though they have done wrong, even though they have turn away, God still weeps over the hurt that is happening to His people. Because He is a God that loves. And when our hearts are broken, His heart is broken.

New Testament Lesson

Romans 2:12-24

We see Paul tell us that no one can stand in judgement, because all have sinned. We are all equal in need for God. No one is perfect. All need grace and forgiveness. All need to be restored. We are all in need. And God loves each of us and wants us all to know His grace and mercy.

Gospel Lesson

John 5:19-29

Jesus tells us that believe comes and takes away judgment. We are not saved by our actions but by the faith that we have. We can't earn God's love. It's freely given today to all that believe.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 3:6-18

See the thing with God is this. Even at our lowest moments, even at the time when we have drifted furthest away, He still longs for us to return. He still longs for His people to return to Him and will do all possible to give us that chance. He won't overrule our free will. But, He will give us moment after moment, chance after chance, all this, to return to Him.

Because He loves us. And He longs to know us and see us free and joyful, in service to HIm and each other.

New Testament Lesson

Romans 1:28-2:11

Romans reminds us that our sins have consequences. And perhaps the greatest consequence of sin is the damage it does to our own souls. The damage it does to us. The hurt it causes to us. The pain it causes to those that we love.

As I said in my sermon Sunday, I think God's response to our sin is not anger. It's heartbreak.

Gospel Lesson

John 5:1-18

Those that were in opposition to Jesus were more worried about that exact letter of the Law that they missed the chance to do good. That is what God desires for us, and for the church. That we do good. That we make the world a better place. That we are a means of grace and mercy to those most in need of grace and mercy. That we do all that we can to help the most amount of people. They missed that chance. May we not.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Lent: Tuesday, March 10. 2009

I can't believe that Holly's managed to put up with me for 8 years today.

Old Testament Lesson

Jeremiah 2:1-13

The Israelites got in trouble when they chased after the things that were really worthless. Sometimes the things that we think that we want are not what we expected. All the money in the world can't fill an empty heart. Want we all want it love, and joy and peace and hope.

Those things can't be bought. Can't be earned. Can't even be chased. They are given. They are given by God's grace, they are given by those that we love, they are given by relationships that we build. Today, chase that. Don't chance the worthless, chase that which gives live.

New Testament Lesson

Romans 1:16-25

The righteous will live by faith, not by sight. I like to see where I'm going. I like to know how the path will end. I like to be in control, have everything the way I like it. That's what Andy wants.

The Bible teaches us, though, that the righteous live not by sight, but by sight. They live by trust. They live by trusting in what God's doing and in following the leading of His Spirit. They live by walking with Him each day and following His leading. The righteous, they live by faith. May we be righteous today, may we walk by faith.

Gospel Lesson

John 4:43-54

Jesus did these signs so that people would believe. Lives were healed, children were raised, hope was restored. Because of Jesus. That is what He does. Look in your own life and see the hope and restoration He has given. Look in the lives of others. See the hope and restoration He has given.

And believe. And find life.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Lent: Thursday, March 5, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

This is entire book is a retelling of the Law. The first generation had passed away. The generation that left Egypt was Moses was no more, they had died away. This left the children. It was the children who would inherit the promised land. But, before they did, the Law had to be regiven. It had to become their own. They had to accept it.

Faith is something that must be ours. Our parents faith, our grandparents faith, our churches faith, that's not what God wants for you. He wants you to have your faith. To make it your own. For it not to just be what your parents lived by, but what you lived by.

Today, may we be people of faith. And may we make our faith our own.

New Testament Lesson

Are you tired? Are you weary? Are you worn out? Are you burned out?

Where is your rest? Do your rest in God? Do you rest in His mercy, His grace, His peace?

When was the last time you just rested in God? When did you last feel His arms of love wrapped around you?

Today, in all that we have to do, may we rest in God.

Gospel Lesson

God gave His son for love. He loves you now. In this moment. He gave us Son to simply show us this. We are loved. He sent His son not to judge the world. But to save it. Right now, at this point, God simply wants you to know this. He loves you. He loves you more than you'll ever know. He loves you.

Today, live as a loved child of God. Because that's what you are.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Satan and Money

HT to Gavin, great, great, video. Think about all things that control us. And where life comes from.

Lent: Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

We see in this passage that there was a time when the Lord was just ready to start over. The people would never act right. They would never behave. They would never do the things that the Lord had commanded them. And the Lord had had enough. He was ready to start over with Moses.

But, Moses would not give up on the people. Moses went to the Lord and prayed for the people. Moses would give up on them.

Who was that person for you? Who is that person, that end in the darkest hour, even at your lowest ebb would not give up on you?

And, today, who do we not need to give up on? Who do we need to give a second chance?

New Testament Lesson

The most dangerous thing about sin is that it hardens our heart. It makes our hearts hard, and make it easier for us to turn from God. One thing leads to the next leads to the next leads to next. And, before we know it, our hearts are hard.

Not to equate church attendance and sin, but think about this way. ,You miss one Sunday, and guess what? It's easier to miss the second, and the third, and the fourth. And then you look up, 6 months later, and you haven't been to worship.

Sin is much the same. It slowly, over time, hardens our hearts to the point we don't know who we are. That is why God hates sin. Because of what it does to His children.

Gospel Lesson

God sends salvation. God loves you enough that He will do whatever He has to do to bring you home. He will do whatever He has to to make things right. He will go to any length to show His love to you.

Today, you are loved! Live like it!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Lent: Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Today, the people are warned, you are not getting the land because you were righteous. The sin of those that you will drive out, there sin also caused this to happen.

And then they are warned, remember, you to, you provoked you God. You are not blameless. You are not more righteous. We are all sinful.

And I guess that's one of the reasons I'm not big not judging others. Just like Israel, I know the blessings in my life aren't because of me, but because of God. And just like them, I also understand that I'm in no position to player "holier-than-thou" because I to have provoked God, done wrong, turned away.

We all have. And God still loves. Let us rejoice in grace, rejoice in mercy. And leave the judging up to God.

New Testament Lesson

We are reminded that Jesus is greater than all. Greater than all the saints of the Bible. Greater than Moses. Greater than all the Old Testament saints. Greater than all that have come, greater than all that will come. He is the rock of our salvation. Not our own works, but Jesus. He is our rock.

Gospel Lesson

We see in Jesus righteous anger. He was angry at injustice, at those being taken advantage of, of the temple being made into a Wal Mart. There are things in life that are wrong that should make us angry. That should upset us.

But, make sure they are not the trivial things. Make sure that we are upset by the things that upset God. Make sure our heart breaks at the things that cause God's heart to break. Make sure that our passion for righteousness is God's.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Lent: Monday, March 2, 2009

Old Testament Lesson

Deuteronomy is filled with the constant reminder to remember. To remember that it was God that us to this point. It is God that gives us the good things. It is God that gave you the life to wake up, God that gives you the grace for this moment, God that gives you the power to survive what may come your way, God that gives you the strength to recover from whatever punch that knocks you to your knees.

It is God. He is your strength. Your shield. Your defender. Even in the valleys and the trials. And the challenges. It is God.

New Testament Lesson

Jesus came to free us. Free us from whatever it is that has your heart in a cage today.

Maybe he came to free you from sin.





He came to set your heart free from whatever cage it's locked in. Won't you experience that freedom today?

Gospel Lesson

Jesus' first miracle — water to wine — saved a bride and her father from embarrassment. His first miracle, allowed a party to continue. His first miracle, affected only those in the wedding party and their guests. No one was healed, saved, or restored.

And, in Israel, there were greater needs than this. Yet, this was His first.

He knew this was important to the bride and her family. He knew this would be the only moment of joy for the villagers for a long time. He knew the shame it would bring to the family of the bride.

And, He cared about them.

No matter how insignificant you may feel, your prayers may feel, your hurts may feel, God knows. And He cares. And He will help.

Because He loves you.